Regular readers of our Matchday Magazine will know all the facts and figures behind each new week at Cliftonville Football Club, while our Twitter followers are regaled with daily delves into the archives – and today provides yet another significant anniversary.
For it was on March 13, 1939 that the Reds took on the mighty Manchester United at Old Trafford.
While the friendly could perhaps be generously described as a 10-goal thriller, the reality is that the English giants – who would go on to finish 14th in the table in their first season back in the First Division – were a class above their Amateur visitors in a commanding 9-1 success.
Two days after drawing 1-1 with fellow newly promoted Aston Villa at the same venue, United raced 2-0 ahead inside the first 25 minutes; William Bryant and John Smith getting their names on the scoresheet ahead of Bryant extending the hosts’ lead further before half-time.
Trailing 3-0 at the interval, a contemporary report from the Manchester Evening News describes how Cliftonville’s defenders tired to the extent that “the home forward players did almost as they pleased” thereafter.
Stanley Pearson and Johnny Carey netted to make it 5-0 ahead of Bryant sealing his hat-trick for United’s sixth and, after Smith and Jack Rowley had added to the Old Trafford side’s dominance, James McKeown earned himself a notable place in Reds folklore by scoring Cliftonville’s goal – one which, unsuprisingly, did not inspire a comeback as United went on to restore their eight-goal advantage and complete the day’s scoring through Rowley’s second of the afternoon.
Despite the team being thoroughly outclassed, one visiting player who earned acclaim was, astonishingly given the scoreline, goalkeeper Fred McCurry, whose performance was deemed to have saved Cliftonville from an even more convincing defeat on this day 80 years ago.
Cliftonville XI v Manchester United
F McCurry, R Tyrie, C Allen, C Crawford, W Ritchie, J McCleave, G Roden, J McKeown, H Browne, J McKee, W Thompson.